At least 2 shot dead by police at rally in Yahukimo against new Papua provinces

CNN Indonesia – March 15, 2022
Screen shot from video of rally in Yahukimo against new Papua provinces – March 15, 2022 (Twitter)

Jakarta – Several demonstrators opposing regional decentralisation or new autonomous regions (DOB) in Yahukimo regency, Papua, have died after being shot by police.

"What we know, is that the victims who died after being hit by gunshots were Yakop Deal (30) and Erson Weipsa (22)", Papua regional police public relations division head Senior Commissioner Ahmad Musthofa Kamal told journalists on Tuesday March 15.

Kamal explained that demonstrations had been held since 10 am local time at several locations in Dekai city, the regional capital of Yahukimo, before moving to the regional Communication and Information Office.

The action initially proceeded without incident with protesters making speeches for around three hours. Kamal said that the demonstration began to become heated and claimed that the protesters started lighting fires at 1.20 pm.

"The impact of the action held by the demonstrators also targeted local police officers until there was a clash and fires were lit in several places", he explained.

A number of police officers were injured until in the end, said Kamal, police "took firm and measured action". Aside from the two people who died, two other demonstrators named Etos Itlay and Luki Kobak suffered gunshot wounds to their upper thighs.

"I also coordinated with the Yahukimo district police chief and the regent in order to quickly deal with it and what rapid measures to use in confronting the people", explained Kamal.

According to Kamal, security at the protest action was initially carried out by 200 personnel from the Cartenz Peace Taskforce. It was later augmented by 200 more officers from the Yahukimo district police.

"Later I will add personnel as reinforcements at Yahukimo regency. As to other officers who were injured, currently there is one person, First Brigadier Muhammad Andi, who was injured in the head and is currently being treated by a medical team", he asserted.

Meanwhile, the West Papua National Liberation Army-Free Papua Organisation National Commission (KOMNAS TPNPB-OPM) Central Headquarters Management said that based on reports from Papuan human rights defenders in Dekai, three people were killed at the demonstration.

"The KOMNAS TPNPB-OPM Central Headquarters Management has received reports from Yahukimo that Indonesian terrorist troops, namely the TNI [Indonesian military] and the Polri [Indonesian police] shot dead the action coordinator at the demonstration opposing the Papua DOB in Yahukimo and there were others who suffered gunshot wounds (the TNI/Polri shot dead three demonstrators)", read a TPNPB-OPM statement released on Tuesday.

The TPNPB-OPM also "issued a strong warning to all regents proposing new regions throughout the land of Papua, including Yahukimo regent Didimus Yahuli". (mjo/asa/arh)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "2 Orang Tewas Tertembak Saat Demo Tolak Pemekaran Papua di Yahukimo".]